I can see him out there. I know this game. Helpless, unsuspecting 20-something having a quiet night in while the folks are out of town, sits down to watch a scary movie. The setup is just too perfect. The only chance I've got is getting the first strike in. I'm not fucking going down like some two-dimensional aging star trying to pretend they're a teenager.
Tools. What have I got? Enough, I hope.
A quick check to make sure he's still there. Yeah, he's gone nowhere. I can see the mask and flowing black. Scream. The film about avoiding film clichés, and here I find one stood right in front of me. The only thing between us is the door. I'm sure he can hear my laboured breathing, my not-as-light-as-I'd-like footsteps. He rings the doorbell. Bastard, trying to catch me unaware. I don't fucking think so. I can just about make his knife out, clutched in close to his robe. It looks dull, tarnished. I'd call it lifeless, but it feels too much like an omen.
I edge my way to the kitchen. The closest thing we've got to a weapon is the assortment of cooking knives. Fine. If it's a knife fight, then I'm going to make the first lunge.
I compose myself for a minute, breathing some of the ash from my lungs before stepping back into the living room so I can make my way to the door. He's at the window. Game over. It's now or never; the police never get here in time. The knife is in my hand. It's weight isn't nearly as reassuring as I'd hoped it would be. The handle is moist in my sweaty palm and I'm trembling so much I think I'll drop it from behind my back and give the game away. This is it. My heart is practically through my ribcage as I reach the door. No fear. If you're going down, go down fighting. I wonder if this is how every man on point felt when breaching a room, how the brave souls of D-Day felt as they climbed into their boats. Death: palpable, real, with a face. I twist the lock. The door swings freely with a push. I taste the air.
He stops. The knife. I'd never felt anything like it. The snag as it first hit, the grate as it connected with bone, the touch of the robe as my hand finished driving home my defence, my salvation. It was over. It took a few seconds for any reaction. I didn't know if it was enough. I stared into those black holes which should hold eyes and saw nothing. Everything in me wanted to burst. He sways, a groan comes from behind the mask. I smell blood as he falls. I stand, trying to will the life back into my limbs. This is the part where they catch you. Dead? Sure, dead just long enough for you to let your guard down. I drag him to the chopping block round back and make sure he's not coming back. It's all over. I get back inside and wash up. I cry, and cry a lot. It feels like I've just been lifted from hell, Jesus wrapping a hand around my wrist when I most needed it. I've never been the religious type, maybe it's time that changed.
My heart drops, right back down into the pit from where I was just lifted. There's a knock at the door, the doorbell ringing. I peer outside and see a group of children and teens dressed as farmers. One looks like a priest. Steven King, Children of the Corn. Religious fanatics haunted by a bastardised deity roaming the fields. Five of them. Well, there may be more of them, but that means nothing. I've done this once; it's time for the sequel.
I twist the lock. The door swings freely with a push. I taste the air.
"TRICK OR TREAT!"
Yeah, I'm not falling for that one.